We’re about to find out how many new seats there will be in Parliament. Then the fighting starts

Yes, indeed. Looking forward to the overview and eventually the new riding list:

The federal election may be over but a new fight over ridings is about to start.

On Friday, the Star has learned, Elections Canada will announce the number of new seats each province will be allocated in the House of Commons. It’s not quite the gerrymandering that occurs in the United States — where politicians draw zigzags to create safe districts — but every 10 years in Canada new constituencies are added and riding boundaries are reviewed. And here too, MPs have lots to say about where they want those lines to be.

“Every party is going to look at this and say, ‘OK, what polls did we win? Where did we lose? How can we create a combination that will give us the best outcome at election time?,’” one MP told the Star. “Everybody does it.”

It may be less overt — and less successful — in Canada but political parties will try to sway the decisions of the independent three-person commissions that decide where the boundaries go.

Those panels, one for each province, will be struck in the next two weeks. The chair is named by the province’s chief justice and the two other members by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Liberal MP Anthony Rota. Over the next year, they’ll draw up a proposal for where they think the lines should be, based on population data from this year’s census. The public will then have a say before a final report is issued. That’s where things can get interesting.

In 2012, for example, when the Saskatchewan commission suggested getting rid of eight pizza-shaped ridings that split Regina and Saskatoon up into four pieces with a tiny bit of urban area and a large rural part, there was massive opposition.

The commission suggested creating two urban districts in Regina and three in Saskatoon to reflect the cities’ rapid growth. They expected 40 people to show up at the hearings: 230 registered. Four extra days were added to the schedule.

MPs came, as did defeated candidates, small town representatives and the public. The vast majority opposed the changes. But once commissioners started receiving identical postcards and petitions and 3,000 written submissions, they understood politicians had mobilized their supporters.

Source: We’re about to find out how many new seats there will be in Parliament. Then the fighting starts

A Sea of White Faces in Australia’s ‘Party of Multiculturalism’

More on Australia:

She seemed an ideal political candidate in a country that likes to call itself the world’s “most successful multicultural nation.”

Tu Le, a young Australian lawyer who is the daughter of Vietnamese refugees, was set to become the opposition Labor Party’s candidate for Parliament in one of Sydney’s most diverse districts. She grew up nearby, works as an advocate for exploited migrant workers and had the backing of the incumbent.

Then Ms. Le was passed over. The leaders of the center-left party, which casts itself as a bastion of diversity, instead chose a white American-born senator, Kristina Keneally, from Sydney’s wealthy eastern suburbs to run for the safe Labor seat in the city’s impoverished southwest.

But Ms. Le, unlike many before her, did not go quietly. She and other young members of the political left have pushed into the open a debate over the near absence of cultural diversity in Australia’s halls of power, which has persisted even as the country has been transformed by non-European migration.

While about a quarter of the population is nonwhite, members of minority groups make up only about 6 percent of the federal Parliament, according to a 2018 study. That figure has barely budged since, leaving Australia far behind comparable democracies like Britain, Canada and the United States.

In Australia, migrant communities are often seen but not heard: courted for photo opportunities and as fund-raising bases or voting blocs, but largely shut out of electoral power, elected officials and party members said. Now, more are demanding change after global reckonings on race like the Black Lives Matter movement and a pandemic that has crystallized Australia’s class and racial inequalities.

“The Australia that I live in and the one that I work in, Parliament, are two completely different worlds,” said Mehreen Faruqi, a Greens party senator who in 2013 became Australia’s first female Muslim member of Parliament. “And we now know why they are two completely different worlds. It’s because people are not willing to step aside and actually make room for this representation.”

The backlash has reached the highest levels of the Labor Party, which is hoping to unseat Prime Minister Scott Morrison in a federal election that must be held by May.

The Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, faced criticism when he held up the white senator, Ms. Keneally, 52, as a migrant “success story” because she had been born in the United States. Some party members called the comment tone deaf, a charge they also leveled at former Prime Minister Paul Keating after he said local candidates “would take years to scramble” to Ms. Keneally’s “level of executive ability, if they can ever get there at all.”

Ms. Keneally, one of the Labor Party’s most senior members, told a radio interviewer that she had “made a deliberate decision” to seek the southwestern Sydney seat. She did so, she said, because it represents an overlooked community that had “never had a local member who sits at the highest level of government, at a senior level at the cabinet table, and I think they deserve that.”

She plans to move to the district, she said. In the Australian political system, candidates for parliamentary seats are decided either by party leaders or through an internal vote of party members from that district. Candidates do not have to live in the district they seek to represent.

When contacted for comment, Ms. Keneally’s office referred The New York Times to previous media interviews.

Chris Hayes, the veteran lawmaker who is vacating the southwestern Sydney seat, said he had endorsed Ms. Le because of her deep connections with the community.

“It would be sensational to be able to not only say that we in Labor are the party of multiculturalism, but to actually show it in our faces,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in March.

Ms. Le, 30, said she believed the party leadership sidelined her because it saw her as a “tick-the-box exercise” instead of a viable contender.

As an outsider, “the system was stacked against me,” she said. “I haven’t ‘paid my dues,’ I haven’t ‘served my time’ or been in with the faceless men or factional bosses for years.”

What she finds especially disappointing about Labor’s decision, she said, is the message it sends: that the party takes for granted the working-class and migrant communities it relies on for votes.

Australia has not experienced the same sorts of fights over political representation that have resulted in growing electoral clout for minority groups in other countries, said Tim Soutphommasane, a former national racial discrimination commissioner, in part because it introduced a “top down” policy of multiculturalism in the 1970s.

That has generated recognition of minority groups, though often in the form of “celebratory” multiculturalism, he said, that uses food and cultural festivals as stand-ins for genuine engagement.

When ethnic minorities get involved in Australian politics, they are often pushed to become their communities’ de facto representatives — expected to speak on multiculturalism issues, or relegated to recruiting party members from the same cultural background — and then are punished for supposedly not having broader appeal.

“The expectation from inside the parties as well as the community is that you’re there to represent the minority, the small portion of your community that’s from the same ethnic background as you,” said Elizabeth Lee, a Korean Australian who is the leader of the Australian Capital Territory’s Liberal Party. “It’s very hard to break through that mold.”

Many ethnically diverse candidates never make it to Parliament because their parties do not put them in winnable races, said Peter Khalil, a Labor member of Parliament.

During his own election half a decade ago, he was told to shave his goatee because it made him “look like a Muslim,” he said. (Mr. Khalil is a Coptic Christian.)

“They want to bleach you, whiten you,” he added, “because there’s a fear that you’ll scare people off.”

In the Australian political system, the displacement of a local candidate by a higher-ranking party insider is not unusual. Mr. Morrison was chosen to run for a seat in 2007 after a more popular Lebanese Australian candidate, Michael Towke, said he was forced to withdraw by leaders of the center-right Liberal Party.

Ms. Keneally moved to the safe Labor seat, with the backing of party leaders, because she was in danger of losing her current seat. Her backers also note that she has been endorsed by a handful of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Middle Eastern community leaders.

Joseph Haweil, 32, the mayor of a municipality in Melbourne and a Labor Party member, said that as a political aspirant from a refugee background, he saw in the controversy over Ms. Le a glimpse of his possible future. Mr. Haweil is Assyrian, a minority group from the Middle East.

“You can spend years and years doing the groundwork, the most important thing in politics — assisting local communities, understanding your local community with a view to help them as a public policy maker — and that’s not still enough to get you over the line,” he said.

Osmond Chiu, 34, a party member who is Chinese Australian, said “the message it sent was that culturally diverse representation is an afterthought in Labor, and it will always be sacrificed whenever it is politically inconvenient.”

Ms. Le spoke out in a way that others in the past have avoided, perhaps to preserve future political opportunities. She said that she was uncertain what she would do next, but that she hoped political parties would now think twice before making a decision like the one that shut her out.

“It’s definitely tapped into something quite uncomfortable to discuss, but I think it needs to be out in the open,” she said. “I don’t think people will stand for it anymore.”

Source: A Sea of White Faces in Australia’s ‘Party of Multiculturalism’

We speak a lot of languages in Canada — elections should reflect our diversity

How significant a barrier are official languages on ballots? Any evidence-based studies?

According to the 2011 census, almost 213,500 people reported an Indigenous mother tongue, including 144,000 who speak an Algonquian language and 35,500 who speak an Inuit language. All Indigenous languages are the languages of this land.

In the same 2011 census, more than 20 per cent of Canadians (6.8 million people) reported a mother tongue other than English or French. At home, more than a million Canadians reported speaking a variant of Chinese, and six other languages (Punjabi, Spanish, Italian, German, Tagalog and Arabic) were each spoken by some 400,000 to 500,000 Canadians. 

The census revealed more than 200 languages spoken by Canadians as a home language or a mother tongue, with 20 languages each numbering over 100,000 speakers.

These “immigrant” languages are also the languages of Canadians, along with the two official languages — English and French (which are also immigrant languages). With some 350,000 new immigrants arriving to Canada each year and numbers rising, the variety and number of non-official minority language speakers are constantly increasing.

Canada has taken the first steps towards the linguistic accommodation of its minority citizens. During the 2019 federal election, Elections Canada developed and offered to voters two publications — the Guide to the Federal Election and the Voter ID info sheet — in more than 30 minority languages and 16 Indigenous languages

The Canada Elections Act also specifies that electors may contact electoral returning officers if they require a language or sign-language interpreter. The aim is to facilitate greater participation of all citizens in the fundamental democratic process.

Discretionary accommodation measures

Canada’s 2019 Indigenous Languages Act states that a federal institution (like Elections Canada) may provide access to services in an Indigenous language. It may also translate a document into an Indigenous language, or provide for interpretation services to facilitate the use of an Indigenous language in the course of the federal institution’s activities. 

However, these otherwise progressive provisions do not mandate linguistic accommodation, meaning these measures are discretionary and not guaranteed.

Electoral rights are universally recognized as among the most fundamental of civil and political rights. They are the hallmark of democracy. Barriers to their exercise and enjoyment — including linguistic barriers — are a human rights and equality issue.

The law and its practice in the United States are instructive. The language minority provisions of the U.S. Voting Rights Act state:

“Whenever any state or political subdivision provides registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots, it shall provide them in the language of the applicable minority group as well as in the English language.” 

These provisions apply to situations where more than 10,000 people, or five per cent of the total voting-age citizens in a single political jurisdiction, are members of a single language minority group, have depressed literacy rates or don’t speak English sufficiently well in order to exercise their electoral participation rights.

During the November 2020 elections, voters in California were able to request ballots in widely spoken languages like Arabic, Armenian, Hmong, Korean, Persian, Spanish and Tagalog. 

In Harris County in Texas (home to America’s fourth largest city, Houston) the ballot was printed in four languages: English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese.

In Cook County (home to Chicago, America’s third-largest city), where over one-third of residents speak a language other than English at home, elections-related information and fully translated ballots were provided to the voters during the November 2020 elections in 12 languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Tagalog, Arabic, Gujarati, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian and Urdu.

The UN urges accommodation

International human rights standards under the United Nations system and within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which Canada is part, urge the accommodation of linguistic minorities.

Most notable provisions can be found in the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the 2001 OSCE Guidelines to Assist National Minority Participation in the Electoral Process and the 2017 handbook Language Rights of Linguistic Minorities by the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues. 

Similar provisions on political participation of Indigenous peoples can be derived from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), brought into Canadian law this year through Bill C-15.

To be more inclusive and rights-based, Canada needs to fully embrace linguistic diversity for its elections. Greater use of Indigenous and minority languages will enhance the quality of Canada’s elections in line with international norms and standards.

This will certainly resonate well with current pledges of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and with Canada’s Inuktitut-speaking new governor general, Mary Simon

As a multicultural, plurilingual and well-heeled country, Canada can do better to accommodate and facilitate the fuller participation of citizens in our elections. In so doing, we can offer a leading example to the world.

Source: https://theconversationcanada.cmail19.com/t/r-l-tryhljdk-kyldjlthkt-f/

As Tories review election loss, weak support in immigrant communities a crucial issue

Article over-dramatises even if there is a need for a review.
Margins in many of these ridings were relatively small. Moreover, in Ontario, the provincial conservatives swept most of the same seats and, as the article notes, active outreach by Conservatives allowed them to make inroads.
But beyond the 41 ridings, there are an additional 93 ridings with between 20 and 50 percent visible minorities which should also be looked at:
The Conservative Party is only beginning to sift through the data from the 2021 election, but there is at least one warning light flashing red on the dashboard: the party has been nearly wiped out in Canadian ridings where visible minorities form the majority.

Of the 41 ridings in Canada where more than half the population is racialized, the Conservatives won just one in the 2021 election — Calgary Forest Lawn — despite winning 119 seats overall.

Source: As Tories review election loss, weak support in immigrant communities a crucial issue

Latif | Equity and diversity were shamefully ignored during the election

In the debates, yes, but the Liberal, NDP and Green parties all had substantial commitments whereas the Conservatives, inexplicably, had none:

While pandemic recovery, gun control, and even puppies took centre stage during the federal election, we failed to seize the opportunity to hold our leaders accountable on equity issues.

In the lead up to the election, we had unprecedented conversations about the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on racialized people; anti-Black racism in policing; Islamophobic violence; the unearthing of thousands of Indigenous children who died at Canadian residential schools; and a spike in hate crimes against members of the Asian community. Yet none of the political parties prioritized equity, diversity and inclusion issues in their platforms, tours or advertising.

As voters, we had the power to hold our leaders accountable by asking the hard questions, but we didn’t. Even when there was a moment on the national stage provided by debate moderator Shachi Kurl, we didn’t seize it. Instead, we allowed the conversation around bills 21 and 96 to turn into a conversation about the impact on the horse race and the polls in Quebec, rather than a conversation about values.

I spoke with Erin Tolley, Canada research chair in gender, race and inclusive politics at Carleton University, who suggests party leaders, the media and the public all play a role in sparking — and continuing — these conversations.

Tolley notes that “there is a long history in Canada of parties not seeing a focus on multiculturalism, immigration or diversity as a winning strategy. They see those issues as divisive. All parties know they need to discuss the economy because voters demand it, but these other issues are viewed as niche. If voters don’t put pressure on parties, then parties are going to ignore the issue. So when we’re thinking about who to blame, I don’t only blame parties.”

There have been many campaigns where a catalyzing moment captured media attention and turned equity issues into election issues. I recall the 2011 provincial election, when a $10,000 tax credit to hire an immigrant for their first job in Ontario got leaked before the Liberal platform launch, and became a lightning rod that almost derailed the campaign. Although it was sound policy, the Conservatives tried to make it a wedge issue. I worked with a Liberal team, behind the scenes, to ensure this did not sabotage our efforts.

Another example of an election flashpoint was the tragic death in 2015 of a three-year-old Syrian refugee, Alan Kurdi, which sparked immigration, refugee and asylum debates. The Conservative’s “barbaric cultural practice hotline” was anti-Muslim and ugly but meant to grab votes. Then, the 2019 election focused on gender inequality and systemic racism as pictures of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in blackface surfaced during the election.

But in this year’s campaign, we watched as the debate moment barely scratched the surface; as the racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism faced by Annamie Paul, former leader of the Green Party of Canada, didn’t raise eyebrows; and as NDP MP Don Davies was given a pass on his unacceptable comments against his opponent Virginia Bremner, a Filipino-Canadian woman.

Source: Opinion | Equity and diversity were shamefully ignored during the election

Kheiriddin: Rebuilding the Tories’ ‘big tent’ starts with new Canadians

Somewhat bloated commentary, where Kheiriddin picks up on earlier arguments made by Tom Flanagan regarding the “fourth sister” of Canadian politics but broadens her arguments to include other issues:
In the aftermath of Canada’s 44th federal election, the Conservative party is at a crossroads. Under two successive leaders, Andrew Scheer and Erin O’Toole, it has attempted to rebuild its fabled “big tent,” and failed.
That tent has taken different forms over the years. From 1984 to 1993, with party leader Brian Mulroney in the Prime Minister’s Office, it was composed of an amalgam of Quebec nationalists, Ontario Red Tories and Western fiscal hawks. From 2006 to 2015, with Stephen Harper at the helm and in power, it comprised a microtargeted mix of suburban and exurban Ontario families, “bleu Québécois,” and the Western remains of the Reform Party.

Source: Rebuilding the Tories’ ‘big tent’ starts with new Canadians

Indo-Canadians tend to vote Liberal. But will they continue to do so?

Interesting discussion of the generational differences:

For nearly two weeks, pundits have scoured pre-election surveys and post-election exit polls to analyze the voting patterns of Canadians in granular detail. So it’s surprising that scant attention has been paid to how Canada’s burgeoning immigrant communities voted.

Among immigrant groups, Canada’s large and rapidly growing Indo-Canadian population deserves particular consideration. According to the 2016 census, there are nearly 1.4 million people of Indian origin residing in Canada, accounting for four per cent of the population. Those numbers have grown dramatically since then; today, Indians represent the largest group of new immigrants in the country. In 2019 alone, more than 80,000 Indians made their way to Canada from India — one-quarter of all immigrants arriving that year.

For years, the Indian community in Canada — much like other ethnic minorities — has been perceived as a strong votary of the Liberal party. But the community’s rising socio-economic profile and young demographic skew, combined with the emergence of the Indo-Canadian NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, have raised questions about its political leanings.

On the eve of the election, we collaborated with YouGov on a nationally representative survey of Indo-Canadians. Our survey of 724 citizens of Indian origin suggests that the Indo-Canadian community continues, in large measure, to support the Liberals, with 38 per cent of respondents indicating their support of the party — twice the number that planned to vote Conservative. One in five (21 per cent) backed the NDP.

Remarkably, this breakdown is nearly identical to the distribution of Indo-Canadian votes in both 2015 and 2019, according to our analysis of the Canadian Election Study. How do we explain the voting habits of Indo-Canadians?

For starters, on a standard left-right ideological spectrum, Indo-Canadians strongly skew left. Nearly three in four Indo-Canadians self-identify on the liberal half of the scale. When it comes to the issues topping their agenda this election season, respondents identify the same bread-and-butter issues that weigh on most Canadians’ minds: health care and COVID-19, the cost of living, the state of the economy. 

If the Indian diaspora exhibits a leftward tilt, why don’t more of them vote for the NDP? Indeed, for many Indo-Canadians, Singh’s allure is undeniable. Nearly half of respondents reported that Singh’s leadership of the NDP makes them more enthusiastic about the party, in large part due to his Indian and/or Sikh roots. Furthermore, when asked to rate their views of Canadian political leaders on a sliding scale from 0-100, Justin Trudeau and Singh are virtually deadlocked — Singh earns an average rating of 67, with Trudeau at 65 and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole lagging at 49.

However, Singh is handicapped by the one impediment that has arguably prevented many Canadians from voting NDP: the party is perceived to have little shot at forming the government. One in four Indians say the primary reason they do not vote NDP is because they do not want to waste their vote. 

On the other end of the spectrum, when asked why they do not identify with the Conservatives, survey respondents reported that the party is too influenced by big business and seeks to cut public services. On everyday economic issues, Conservatives appear out of step with the left-of-centre policies Indo-Canadians favour. Misaligned policies on the right and limited electability on the left seem to funnel Indo-Canadian voters to the Liberal camp. 

The seeming stability of the votes of the Indo-Canadian community, however, elides deeper changes underway. While older voters (above 30) favour the Liberals over the NDP by a two-to-one margin, younger Indo-Canadians split their vote almost evenly between the two. The divide between first-generation Indo-Canadians (who came as immigrants) and second-generation citizens (born and raised in Canada) is starker. While half of naturalized citizens support the Liberal party, just one in three born in the country do so. The NDP is the principal beneficiary of this shift: the party’s vote share among second-generation Canadians is twice as large as among their first-generation counterparts. Indeed, country of birth is the single most important predictor of whether Indo-Canadians are likely to vote Liberal, even after controlling for age, education, gender and religion. 

The relative absence of a religious divide is worth emphasizing, as it stands in contrast with the voting attitudes of Indians in another large, English-speaking country — the United Kingdom. There, Hindus have abandoned the left-of-centre Labour Party in droves and embraced the Conservatives, which has given British Indians prominent cabinet berths and adopted pro-India policies. In Canada, partisan polarization on religious lines is not so evident in the Indian community. But differing views over how Canada should engage with India’s government and concerns that the Liberal party favours Sikhs over the Indo-Canadian community at large could trigger a realignment.

Looking forward, the voting behaviour of the community will be shaped by two competing demographic trends. As the size of the diaspora increases, so will the number of young, Canadian-born Indians who are eligible to vote — increasing popular support for the NDP. At the same time, the sharp increase in recent Indian immigration will boost the numbers of naturalized citizens, who are more likely to support the Liberal party. The net effect of these trends, and how the Conservatives respond, will determine if the stability in the voting preferences of the Indo-Canadian community continues.

Caroline Duckworth and Milan Vaishnav are with the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Devesh Kapur is Starr Foundation Professor of South Asian Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/10/01/indo-canadians-tend-to-vote-liberal-but-will-they-continue-to-do-so.html

Australia: Why Diversity Seems Easier Said Than Done in Politics

Australia’s political representation is much worse than Canada (haven’t yet seen the final 2021 numbers for Canada which a number of researchers are working on):

Recently, I’ve been reporting on the controversy over Labor’s pick to represent Fowler, where Tu Le, a young lawyer and the daughter of Vietnamese migrants, was passed over, with the party instead choosing Kristina Keneally, a party leader and white woman. I’ve been using it as a starting point to examine why Australia’s Parliament lags behind other English-speaking countries when it comes to cultural diversity.

I’ve talked to people from across the political spectrum, including many young people of color within the Labor Party who have led the debate. For them, the controversy is just the latest example of the dissonance between a country that claims to be the most successful nation when it comes to multiculturalism and a governing elite that is reluctant to address diversity at the cost of political convenience.

What I wasn’t able to go into much in my article (coming soon) was the details that party members shared about the barriers they faced on every rung of the political ladder. It all added up to a picture of a two-tiered political system that sees people of color as fine community representatives or liaisons but not cut out for higher leadership positions, and treats immigrant communities as expandable membership bases or voting blocs.

A few caveats: they had differing views about the Fowler preselection. They had nothing against Kristina Keneally and her qualifications for office. They stressed that underrepresentation is a problem across all parties, not unique to Labor — it’s just particularly disappointing when the party that purports to champion diversity doesn’t make good on its promise.

Ethnically diverse members regularly have their worth tied to their communities, said Joseph Haweil, 30, mayor of Hume City in Melbourne. “Very often there’s a feeling if you’re someone from a multicultural background and you walk into a branch meeting without already having signed up five or 10 people from your community, you’re a nobody.”

Migrant communities are courted for fund-raising and to build a base for internal power struggles, but afforded little genuine engagement, said Tu Le. “When you go to a Cabramatta branch meeting, half the people there have no idea what you’re talking about, they’re just there because someone signed them up,” she said. “How parties engage with local communities — it’s one-sided, it’s not participatory.”

There’s a huge pool of untapped talent within the Labor party, she added, that gets overlooked because “we’re just seen or categorized in certain ways that don’t let people see our full potential.”

“There’s two different set of rules,” said Kun Huang, 30, a Cumberland councilor in Sydney. A person of color needs to simultaneously demonstrate that “you can bring along your community” and that they have appeal to those outside their own ethnicity, he said, but if you’re not a minority, “you just need to know the right set of people and you’re in.”

The system privileges party insiders who spend their time around other party members, shoring up support for internal preselections and ballots, said Charishma Kaliyanda, 33, a Liverpool councilor in Sydney. If you’re busy engaging with or volunteering for cultural or community organizations, “you have less time to do the organizational work that you need to do to build up that support.”

“There’s a really disjointed relationship between the skills you may have being from a different cultural background or being a community advocate, and how they’re valued in a political sense,” she added.Sign up for the Australia Letter Newsletter  Conversation starters about Australia and insight on the global stories that matter most, sent weekly by the Times’s Australia bureau. Plus: heaps of local recommendations. Get it sent to your inbox.

The other question I’ve been asking is: what needs to change?

It seems that the first step is acknowledging the issue. In N.S.W., party members are putting forward a platform change at the next state Labor conference to formally recognize the underrepresentation of racial minorities in leadership positions, including Parliament, and commit to improving representation in the party.

Party members also said change needs to happen at every level — from how members are recruited, to who is given staff positions, to who gets preselected.

I don’t want to see a situation where the party just randomly picks, say, a Chinese Australian so that it fulfills the diversity image,” said Mr. Huang. “I want the party to select good local candidates who have been contributing to the party and who have been active.”

If there aren’t candidates who fulfill both those criteria, he added, “our job is to recruit more culturally diverse members into the party.”

Tim Soutphommasane, Australia’s former racial discrimination commissioner, theorized that we may be starting to see two different understandings of “multiculturalism.” There’s the one celebrated by the majority of the political class that “would see things as pretty good the way they are and would understand any underrepresentation as an issue that’d be fixed with time,” he said.

Then, there’s a more political form that sees underrepresentation as a matter of urgency and asks: “If we really are the most successful multicultural country in the world, why does the leadership of our society look much like it did during the era of White Australia?”

“The lesson here should be clear,” he added. “Multicultural voices will need to be more assertive. Power is rarely shared or gifted. It needs to be contested and won. But that’s not easy, especially when there is a strong social pressure for our multiculturalism to be nice, polite, compliant — anything basically but disruptive.”

My article about why Australia’s halls of power don’t look like our population will be out in the next few days.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/01/world/australia/why-diversity-seems-easier-said-than-done-in-politics.html

Unvaccinated Conservative MPs should ‘stay home’ from Parliament: Bloc leader

Valid given vaccine mandates elsewhere even if this will only affect Conservative MPs:

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said Wednesday the next session of Parliament should happen in person with any members who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 staying home.

Questions remain about what the return to Parliament will look like for Canada’s 338 elected representatives after the recent federal election saw the Liberals re-elected with a minority government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will name his cabinet next month and Parliament will resume sometime in the fall.

Since the pandemic hit in March 2020, the House of Commons and committees had been functioning with some MPs working from Ottawa, but many others appearing virtually, including, later on, to vote, before the election was called.

Blanchet said he wants to see Parliament resume quickly with MPs having to be fully vaccinated in order to be there in person because now vaccines against the novel coronavirus are more widely available.

His party, along with the New Democrats and Liberals, made it a rule that candidates had to be fully vaccinated in order to hit the doorsteps, but the Conservatives did not.

“They get fully vaccinated or they stay home,” Blanchet said of Conservative MPs who might not have had their shots.

“Parliament should not come back under any kind of hybrid formation … now we know that we can go on with the way this building is supposed to work, and we should not refrain from doing so because a few persons don’t believe that the vaccine works. This belongs to another century.”

NDP MP Peter Julian said in a statement that because Canada is battling a fourth wave of the virus, the party wants to talk to others about continuing some of the hybrid practices when Parliament resumes.

“All of our NDP MPs are vaccinated and we’ve been very clear that federal government employees must be vaccinated too. Getting vaccinated is the right thing to do and elected leaders have a responsibility to set a good example by following public health advice,” Julian said.

The Liberals and Conservatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

The Conservatives saw 119 MPs, including incumbents and new candidates, elected on Sept. 20, after the party spent the race dogged by questions about its opposition to making vaccines mandatory as a tool to defeat COVID-19.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole refused to say on the campaign trail whether he knew how many of those running for the Tories had been fully vaccinated, saying he told campaign teams that those who are not immunized against COVID-19 should take daily rapid tests.

O’Toole is himself vaccinated and has been encouraging others to get their shot, but the Conservative leader says he also respects the personal health choices of Canadians and attacked Trudeau for using the issue to sow division in the country.

Conservative MPs will make their way to Ottawa next week to have their first caucus meeting since the election, where they will have to decide whether they want to review O’Toole’s leadership.

The call for MPs to be vaccinated comes as Trudeau works on bringing in a mandate requiring the federal civil service, along with those working in its federally regulated industries, to be fully vaccinated.

His government has promised to make it a rule by the end of October that travellers flying or taking a train in Canada have to be immunized in order to board.

Many provinces have already introduced a vaccine passport system requiring consumers to provide proof of immunization to access non-essential businesses like restaurants and sports and entertainment venues.

“For the safety of House of Commons staff, translators, pages, security, other MPs and their staff, all parliamentarians should show proof that they are fully vaccinated in order to take their seats in the House,” tweeted former Liberal cabinet minister Catherine McKenna, who didn’t seek re-election, but served for six years in government.

As of Friday, Health Canada reported that around 79 per cent of people 12 and older as having being fully vaccinated, with about 85 per cent receiving at least one dose.

Source: Unvaccinated Conservative MPs should ‘stay home’ from Parliament: Bloc leader

Liberals must demand probe into any China election meddling


But I would hope that we will also get some insight from academics and community members other factors that may also have played a role. A question I have is whether a weaker CPC position on masking and vaccines may have also contributed, given Chinese Canadians, judging by Richmond numbers, were less averse to COVID restrictions than some other groups:

It’s a common trope that foreign policy is never a ballot question. As riled up as Canadians got about Afghanistan in our recent election, research showed it had little impact on the choices they ultimately made. Bread and butter issues like childcare or concerns about climate change mattered more than how well the prime minister performed — or did not perform — on the world stage.

Or did it? There is growing evidence that for some voters, foreign matters played a key role, not due to personal preference, but foreign interference. And that interference had a direct impact on votes, seat count, and the shape of the 44th Parliament.

Source: Liberals must demand probe into any China election meddling